Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Synod 2024 instructs Calvin to define “confessional difficulties”, further develop gravamen process

Steven Herppich
Interim President Greg Elzinga addresses Synod 2024 in the chapel sanctuary. (Banner photo by Steven Herppich)

The synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), Calvin’s parent denomination, has instructed Calvin’s Board of Trustees (BOT) to define the gravamen process for its faculty and “develop language and processes in alignment with those in the CRC” regarding those who have “confessional difficulties” with official denominational positions. 

The decision comes after synod voted to clarify the confessional-difficulty gravamen process for church officebearers and set a three-year time limit for the resolution of confessional difficulties. While Calvin faculty are not considered officebearers, Calvin is among the denominational institutions and agencies instructed to “review and revise, as needed, their gravamina policies.” The BOT will present a report on its progress towards these goals at Synod 2025.

Synod is the governing body of the CRCNA. At its annual meetings, committees meet to form reports and recommendations, which are then voted on by the larger body. 

According to the committee report which recommended instructing Calvin to define their gravamen process, “a breakdown of trust…between Calvin University and some of our church members” related to definitions of unchastity was a motivation for the recommendation. 

In 2020, according to previous Chimes reporting, nearly 150 professors and staff sent a letter opposing the CRCNA’s Human Sexuality Report (HSR) to then-President Michael Le Roy and the committee on Confessional Commitments and Academic Freedom. Synod 2022 approved the HSR and affirmed that the denomination’s definition of unchastity included “homosexual sex.” 

Following Synod 2022, a number of faculty signed confessional-difficulty gravamina. In response, several of the CRCNA’s regional classes sent overtures expressing concerns about Calvin faculty’s views on same-sex relationships to Synod 2023 and 2024.

In the same session, synod recognized “Calvin’s efforts to be faithful to the Reformed confessions in the context of academic inquiry.” Additionally, synod voted to maintain denominational funding for Calvin. According to the CRC’s 2023 Annual Ministry Report, approximately 1 percent of Calvin’s total funding in that year came directly from the denomination.

The in-person sessions of Synod 2024 are meeting on Calvin’s campus between Friday, June 14 and Thursday, June 20. The latest updates from Synod 2024 are available online here.


This is a developing story.

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  • S

    Seeker of freedomJun 20, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Could you please break this down for non-CRC readers? Does this mean that affirming Calvin faculty are going to be purged? Given the low percentage of Calvin’s funding that comes from the denomination, is the university able and willing to defy the denomination?